Agoda is a travel-related metasearch engine on which users can search and book accommodations, cars, and flights.
The company, which is headquartered in Singapore, was founded in 2005 by Robert Rosenstein and Michael Kenny.
Agoda, as an aggregator, works together with the various hotels, airlines, and more that list on its platform to surface the best possible deal for any given customer query.
Travelers can specify their search by selecting a destination, date ranges, price, average ratings, and many more. Bookings are either completed directly on the platform or on the partner’s site.
Agoda wasn’t the first travel-related rodeo for co-founder Michael Kenny. In 1994, he began working for the Arcadia Hotel Group (now Hilton) in Thailand. Two years later, he branched out on his own by debuting travel agency Tropical Trails.
However, Kenny would soon discover the vast opportunities that the early internet presented. As a result, he launched PlanetHoliday.com in 1997 – one of the region’s first websites that worked together with local hoteliers.
He grew the site throughout the years, even as demand for travel suffered due to the 9/11 attacks as well as others copying his business model. In 2003, he expanded by launching PrecisionReservations.com, a hotel reservation site.
That same year, he and longtime friend Rosenstein incorporated Agoda Ltd. In 2005, they merged Kenny’s two sites to officially launch Agoda.com, which was acquired by Priceline (now Booking Holdings) in November 2007 for an undisclosed amount.
Over the coming years, Agoda’s founders largely focused on expanding the website’s reach from its Southeast Asian roots all across the globe. Even the departure of longtime CEO and founder Rosenstein, in 2018, didn’t derail the firm’s growth.
Today, close to 3 million properties are listed on Agoda. The firm, furthermore, employs 4,000 people in 30 countries across the globe.
Unfortunately, Booking Holdings does currently not disclose any revenue or profit figures for the company. However, given the firm’s reach and employee count, it can be assumed that annual revenue numbers are somewhere in the low billions range.
The methodology with which competitors of Agoda are ranked is based on publicly available information. Data points such as revenue, number of listings and bookings, funding and valuation, the number of employees, and anything else that might be relevant will be considered.
This analysis only looks at booking site competitors who either aggregate listings from other platforms or directly work together with property owners. As a result, indirect competitors, such as hotel chains, will be excluded.
It has to be noted that this analysis should not be seen as an endorsement of either service. It is merely a summary of the competition that Agoda faces as of today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 9 competitors of Agoda.
Headquarters: Amsterdam, The Netherlands Founder(s): Geert-Jan Bruinsma Year Founded: 1996
Booking.com has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the Netherlands. Recent university graduate Bruinsma, in 1996, launched Bookings.nl after he discovered that it wasn’t possible to book hotels online in his home country.
Four years later, he agreed to a merger with Bookings Online. The combined company acquired the Booking.com domain name soon after. Priceline, after failed acquisition talks with Expedia, acquired Booking for $133 million in 2005.
In 2018, Priceline Group decided to rebrand into Booking Holdings, which now encompasses world-renowned web properties such as priceline.com, Kayak, OpenTable, and Agoda. Meanwhile, Booking also expanded into the short-term rental market to take advantage of the opportunity that was largely created by Airbnb and Vrbo.
The platform now lists over 860,000 hotels and apartments, respectively. In 2021, Booking Holdings, which unfortunately doesn’t break down income figures for Booking.com, generated $11 billion in revenue. Booking.com itself employs over 15,000 people across the globe.
Headquarters: Bellevue, Washington Founder(s): Rich Barton, Richard Bangs Year Founded: 1996
Expedia was created as a sub-division of Microsoft and was launched as an online travel agency with the purpose of being promoted on the firm’s MSN portal. Rich Barton, at the time, worked at Microsoft’s CD-ROM division and was responsible for creating travel guides.
The vast reach of MSN enabled Expedia to grow like gangbusters. Three years after it launched, Expedia was spun out of Microsoft (the first time Microsoft did something like this) and went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
In 2003, Barry Diller’s IAC acquired a controlling stake in Expedia. Two years later, it spun off its travel division to create Expedia Group, which now entails brands such as Vrbo, Hotels.com, trivago (who are all on this list), hotwire, CarRentals.com, and many more.
Expedia itself offers products across the travel experience including properties, flights, car rentals, activities, and more. In 2021, the Expedia Group generated $8.6 billion in revenue. Much like Booking, it does not disclose revenue figures for Expedia.com.
One last interesting side note: Expedia CEO and co-founder Barton resigned in 2003 (right after the IAC acquisition) and ultimately went on to launch the real estate site Zillow. He, furthermore, helped to establish sites like Glassdoor.
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk Year Founded: 2008
Airbnb is the world’s largest apartment booking platform. It now boasts six million listings, has four million hosts on the platform, and is available in 100,000 cities and towns as well as 220+ countries across the globe. Customers can book anything from cabins to tree houses. On top of that, Airbnb also has a separate events section.
Part of Airbnb’s success lies in the platform’s user-centric focus. Customers can, for example, complete a booking within less than three clicks. The user experience itself has largely stayed the same as well throughout the years.
However, Airbnb has also faced dozens of legal battles with cities across the globe. Those municipalities claimed that hosts were running illegal hotels and were thus liable to pay taxes. In 2018, for example, a couple in Manhattan was hit with a $1 million fine for illegally listing seven properties on sites like Airbnb.
Additionally, some have argued that Airbnb’s mere existence has led to higher rental costs (especially in popular destinations such as Barcelona or New York City), pricing out locals in the process. Trashed Airbnb rentals are certainly not uncommon, either.
Investors didn’t seem too worried, though. They have poured a combined $6.5 billion into the company, which went public in December 2020 and is valued at over $60 billion. In 2021, Airbnb has generated close to $6 billion in revenue. It currently employs over 6,000 people worldwide.
4. Google Travel
Headquarters: Mountain View, California Founder(s): Google Year Founded: 2011
When one of the world’s biggest companies decided to enter the travel segment, it is automatically a force to be reckoned with. Back in 2004, Google launched Maps, which became the foundation for its advances in travel. Google Maps now informs parts of Google Travel, more precisely the Things To Do section that is populated by user reviews and such.
However, its ambitions only became evident when, in 2010, Google purchased flight information software company ITA for $700 million. The acquisition allowed Google to launch Hotel Finder and Flights just a year after. In 2016, Google launched its Trips mobile app, which it rebranded into what we now know as Google Travel back in 2019.
Google does not disclose any traffic or revenue figures for Travel – with good reason. In the past, competitors such as TripAdvisor and Yelp have called out Google for its allegedly anti-competitive practices of favoring its own products. Having data on how much traffic Google has taken away from players in the industry would only add fuel to the fire.
It can, nevertheless, be assumed that Google Travel has since grown into one of the biggest players in the industry. This is due to the fact that many travelers begin their search for destinations and accommodations on Google and are thus immediately presented with the firm’s own product suite. Customers can now book accommodation, flights, and hotels via Google Travel.
Headquarters: Aurora, Colorado Founder(s): David Clouse Year Founded: 1995
Vrbo, which stands for “vacation rentals by owner,” is another platform where property owners can directly list their accommodations. In fact, founder David Clouse started the site to find renters for his ski house in Colorado.
Much like Airbnb, you can communicate directly with hosts. Vrbo also offers various insurance products to protect both hosts and travelers against unexpected damages. Both the guest and host pay fees for every completed booking.
Vrbo was ultimately acquired by HomeAway in 2006. Nine years later, Expedia paid $3.9 billion to acquire HomeAway. In 2020, Expedia decided to merge the HomeAway brand into Vrbo, which is now considered to be one of the holding company’s most valuable web properties.
Today, there are over two million properties, such as cabins or beach houses, listed on Vrbo. Expedia has publicly disclosed that it expects Vrbo to reach $2 billion in annual revenue soon. Lastly, the platform employs over 600 people.
Headquarters: Needham, Massachusetts Founder(s): Stephen Kaufer, Langley Steinert Year Founded: 2000
TripAdvisor is mostly known as a travel review site on which users can rate destinations, restaurants, hotels, and anything else in between – sometimes to the amusement of other users.
Over one billion reviews have been posted on the site since it launched. The platform’s popularity is expressed, among other things, by signs that restaurants and hotels put up to highlight their ratings.
TripAdvisor, furthermore, provides travelers with tons of inspiration via its Travellers’ Choice awards. The award, which has been handed out for close to a decade, lists the community’s favorite hotels, restaurants, and things to do/visit.
However, what many don’t know is that users can also book hotels, flights, or vacation rentals directly on TripAdvisor. The extensive number of reviews certainly helps customers make better decisions.
However, the company, in the past, has been caught restricting negative reviews. In late 2021, for instance, it halted reviews on Salt bae’s London restaurant. Co-founder Kaufer, who led the company for over 20 years as CEO, furthermore stepped down in May 2022.
TripAdvisor, in spite of those issues, has become one of the biggest travel-related websites. It generates $902 million in annual revenue (most of it from advertising). The platform, which employs over 2,500 people, offers reviews on almost 9 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines, and cruises.
Headquarters: Dallas, Texas Founder(s): David Litman, Robert Diener Year Founded: 1991
Hotels.com started out as the Hotel Reservations Network (HRN), allowing travelers to book hotels via free-of-charge phone calls. Ownership would change throughout the years as well. Since 2005, it is owned by Expedia – just like Vrbo and many other companies on this list.
Apart from its super valuable brand domain (for which the company allegedly churned out $11 million back in 2002), Hotels.com has also been a marketing juggernaut. Captain Obvious, as portrayed by actor Brandon Moynihan, became the personification of Hotels.com as the “obvious choice.” The campaign has been successfully running since 2014 and has garnered billions of eyeballs since.
Hotels.com is primarily used for booking hotels across the globe. However, owners can also list their properties on Hotels.com, which are then distributed across other Expedia-owned properties. The site itself is available in 85 countries and 35 languages.
Revenue figures for Hotels.com are unfortunately not being disclosed by Expedia. The company itself currently employs over 1,000 people.
Headquarters: Düsseldorf, Germany Founder(s): Malte Siewert, Peter Vinnemeier, Rolf Schromgens Year Founded: 2005
trivago is another metasearch engine that works together with booking sites, travel agencies, as well as the service provider (e.g., airline or hotel) itself. Its various partnerships have allowed the company to list over five million properties on its platform.
Travelers, apart from a place to stay, can also book flights and rent cars on trivago. However, those listings are not always accurate. In April 2022, the Australian government fined trivago $32.6 million for misleading consumers over hotel room rates on the site.
trivago, despite those issues, is now Europe’s second-biggest metasearch engine, only trailing Booking.com. In 2012, Expedia spent $632 million in cash and common stock to acquire 61.6 percent of trivago. Four years later, trivago became the first German company to list on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
In 2021, the firm generated €361 million (~ $378 million) in revenue. Lastly, trivago employs over 1,000 people.
Headquarters: Gurgaon, Haryana, India Founder(s): Ritesh Agarwal Year Founded: 2012
OYO differentiates itself from other companies on this list by partially operating on a franchise model. The company redesigns existing hotels and then standardizes them to offer a similar booking experience across its locations. Consequently, this allows hoteliers can take advantage of OYO’s brand.
Apart from franchising, the company also acts as an aggregator and even operates some hotels by itself. Over 157,000 hotels now utilize the firm’s technology, which handles everything from booking to check-in.
OYO itself was started by boy wonder Agarwal who became the first person of Asian descent to be accepted to the prestigious Thiel Foundation. The program provided him with the necessary capital ($100,000) to launch OYO Rooms right after graduating from high school.
Unfortunately, not everything has been rosy thus far. For example, OYO was caught renting out from unlicensed hotels. The firm, furthermore, withheld payments to hoteliers and inflated its performance numbers to command a higher valuation.
OYO, despite its various problems, has been able to raise $3.1 billion in venture funding thus far. Revenue for 2021 was equal to 40 billion Indian rupees (~ $550 million). The company is projected to go public sometime in 2022 or 2023.
Online travel alone is a market worth over $450 billion. Naturally, there are many other companies gunning for a traveler’s pockets.
There are hundreds of booking sites that all essentially offer the same type of functionality as Agoda. Examples include Hotwire, Priceline, Travelocity, and many others.
However, many of the larger metasearch engines have since been scooped up by the big holding companies in the industry, namely Booking and Expedia.
They often keep the sites alive to utilize the traffic these brands naturally accrue. However, some like HomeAway are also being shut down if their performance declines.
Hotel chains such as Hilton or Marriott have boasted their own booking platforms ever since the internet became a thing, too.
Their global footprint certainly allows them to compete with other metasearch engines. On top of that, many of those chains also offer reward programs that provide customers with discounts.
Nevertheless, it has to be noted that many of those chains are oftentimes present on all of the common platforms. The likes of Agoda, Booking, Expedia, and others have simply become too powerful and popular to not be on them.
Lastly, flight comparison sites have also used their traffic to expand into accommodations and hotels. Sites such as Kiwi or Skyscanner compare prices across hotels and allow you to directly book them on the platform (just like Agoda has entered their turf).